The Better Philadelphia Elections Coalition is committed to improving city elections to ensure that every eligible voter is able to independently, privately and securely cast their ballot. Founded in 2016 to advocate for abolishing the elected Office of the City Commissioners, the coalition continues to believe that structural reform is needed to sustain meaningful improvements in local elections and voter registration. Coalition members are united in their support of the following principles and their belief that reform is essential if we are to remedy longstanding issues that have plagued elections in Philadelphia.

Candidates seeking to be responsible for voter registration and election administration in Philadelphia as a City Commissioner should be prepared to:

  1. Set a vision and advance reform. Involve various stakeholders from across Philadelphia in a strategic planning process to set an overarching vision for city elections and the voting experience, and the steps and resources necessary to achieve that vision. This should include advocating for updates to Pennsylvania’s 1930s-era election law; developing a system to evaluate local elections and incorporate best practices from other municipalities; and implementing department-level reforms that enhance election integrity and voter accessibility.

  2. Safeguard elections: Work with city and state officials, advocates, and voters to expose fraud, intimidation, and corruption in the election process; train poll workers to administer election law and ensure clean elections; and ensure the smooth deployment of voting machines that produce an auditable paper trail and electronic poll books. Philadelphia has made progress in bolstering election integrity in recent years, but more must be done to safeguard our elections and protect public trust in the process.

  3. Guarantee voter accessibility and rights: Install processes and allocate resources beyond those required by local, state and federal law to ensure that voters with disabilities and those with limited English proficiency have equal access and a quality experience during the voting process. This includes making voting materials available in the numerous languages spoken in Philadelphia and acquiring voting systems with the capacity to meet the needs of city’s diverse electorate. Guaranteeing full access to the ballot and protecting voters’ rights will require providing appropriate and thorough training for poll workers and city elections staff who interact directly with voters.

  4. Effectively recruit, train, and pay poll workers: Develop and implement a program working with community leaders and the rest of city government to staff the more than 8,000 Election Board positions citywide; provide comprehensive, hands-on and scenario-based training prior to every election; and increase compensation for attending training sessions. This includes providing sufficient preparation for all workers to provide assistance to disabled and limited English proficiency voters, efficiently manage a polling site, and ensure a smooth voting experience and clean election.

  5. Collaborate on evidence-based voter engagement: Collaborate with city departments and other government agencies to offer nonpartisan voter registration opportunities  and information about election dates and critical voting procedures as part of service delivery models and by taking advantage of 21st-century technology. Nonpartisan voter registration and engagement programs should be grounded in the robust literature that surfaces proven ways to drive voter turnout, especially in odd-year election cycles with historically low-levels of voter participation. Tactics deployed by the city should be evaluated on a regular basis to gauge performance.

Candidates are urged to address these issues during the 2019 campaign season, sharing their specific plans for each and, if they have other priorities not mentioned in the BPEC platform, explaining those parts of their agendas.

The Better Philadelphia Elections Coalition welcomes questions and comments on this platform from candidates, media and the general public. Please contact Patrick Christmas at pchristmas@seventy.org.